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Archbishop fears Quebec government's secularism bill will erode freedoms

Montreal’s Archbishop says he fears the province’s move to legislate on secularism will come at the expense of individual freedoms.

Archbishop Christian Lepine says in a statement that while the state must demonstrate neutrality, it must also demonstrate an openness and acceptance towards all its citizens.

Quebec’s Bill 21 would prohibit public servants in positions of authority — including teachers, police officers, Crown prosecutors and prison guards — from wearing religious symbols on the job.

Public hearings into the bill wrap up today in Quebec City.

Lepine says taking away individual freedoms in an attempt to establish state neutrality is the first step in a gradual elimination of individual and collective public expressions of belonging to a religious community.

Instead, Lepine suggests a the government promote a form of secularism where the state preserves, protects and promotes freedoms in the public sphere, allowing for a constructive dialogue in mutual respect.

The Canadian Press